Sunday, October 15, 2006

Karon Killian, where are you?

Are you well? Is everything okay? Have you just given up on your business? If the answer to the last question is yes, that's understandable. The work that you do (did?) is wonderful, the kits that you make comprehensive, the designs you do bear the stamp of a true artist. And yet, the latest kit of yours I have in my possession is dated 2004.

Ms Killian does have an address in Wisconsin. I picked up two kits of hers through a favorite shop of mine in New York and I bought a number of them on eBay. I keep trying her website, but it's down. The retailers I have talked to or emailed about her have told me her business phone was disconnected.

It's just a crying shame.

The people who know me know how much of a cross-stitch and needlepoint nut I have become. My grandmother died a number of years ago, and on a whim one day, I went to a shop down the street from where I worked, browsed through their cross-stitch patterns and needlepoint canvasses, thought of the things my grandmother used to needlepoint (mostly plastic canvas stuff), and walked out with a cross-stitch kit of a Walter Anderson Blue Crab woodcut print. With that purchase, I began my long, slow road to embroidery stash oblivion. I have patterns I haven't gotten to yet. I have evenweave fabric waiting to be stitched. I have four boxes of cotton embroidery floss. My stash has taken over a corner of our walk-in closet and it threatens to take over our bedroom and living room.

And now, because of Karon Killian's designs, I'm getting into hand-dyed specialty threads and some ribbon embroidery to boot. Oh, how the road to hell is paved with good intentions and the need to see one's progress in stitching. I am certifiable. It is guaranteed that I will die and all this damn embroidery floss and ribbons will be what does me in.

But how can I pass up the following: a pattern depicting a dude in his underwear, sittin' in an easy chair with a beer in hand, while his woman stands there and pulls out her attempt at seduction: "Hold me, savor me, press me to your lips. Pretend I'm a beer"? A counted cross-stitch chart of Tiffany's Wisteria stained glass window? Kits of Frank Lloyd Wright stained glass (involving loads of backstitching, by the way)? A cute kitten chart, just right for my friend Edie, with two kittens peering out from behind an imagined corner and the moniker, "I never repeat listen closely"? I've finished a LOT of things I've started, but there are many more that I've begun and need finishing, or just need to be started.

Since I had my son, and quit glassblowing full time when I was pregnant and sick as a dog my first few months, I was itching to do something with my hands. I couldn't exactly set up a home furnace in all the apartments we lived in in Queens, renting time at the UrbanGlass public access studio in Brooklyn would have been a costly schlep, and I was dragged, kicking and screaming, into full-time mommyhood. Hence, the triple twist, deep-sea dive I made into needlework. God help me...

Well, in a way, at this time in my life, God has.

Most of the time, what I'm working on is portable. I get a sense of accomplishment from it, since I can see my progress on a regular basis. And it is a great stress-buster. Plus, most of the finished stuff makes great gifts.

I've heard many horrific things recently. Someone informed me of a shooting that occurred a block away from my home a few weeks ago, probably when I was out of town. My neighbor was assaulted one morning while she was walking her dog. A lovely birthday bash held next door by our neighbors and their friends, most of whom have October birthdays, had the police called on it by an irate neighbor in a muumuu, ticked that a nice three-piece jazz combo was playing in our neighbors' backyard on a Saturday night after 10 PM (This is New Orleans, for crying out loud. Not so long ago, the other folks living near the party would have joined in at some point...) .

I'd cry my eyes out if I weren't already on antidepressants and had to stay strong for my son. I'd drink, smoke, or do drugs to excess, but the money involved in THAT makes it an expensive proposition, I need my strength to raise my son, and the overall health problems resulting from excessive use of all that crap would probably do me in in a way that I don't think I'd like. Gambling is just OUT for me, despite the video poker machines all over and Harrah's downtown. I'm slacking off on buying books because my husband is begging me not to stuff any more onto our jammed bookshelves, plus, I'm getting more choosy about what I want to purchase (not easy in a town whose library system has been decimated). I've never been much of a high-fashion nut, I don't have a shoe fetish, and I don't want to spend loads of dough to look good.

Hence, the needlepoint.

And my discovery of Karon Killian's work. If you get a chance, read this: and you'll see what I mean. She's a real artist. The deisgns have been carefully worked out, complete with instructions on the construction of the boxes and the finishing of them. If I could somehow resurrect her small company, Whiskey Creek Ink, from whatever form of oblivion it seems to have fallen into, I'd do it. Because for me, working on these designs has been a lifesaver.

Ms Killian, I hope you don't mind. I want to use floss, perforated paper, and cardboard like you do and create some designs of my own. I'd give you a great deal of credit, of course, even send a royalty on the use of your finishing patterns somehow. Them lil' boxes are teaching me something about patience at this crazy time in my life, about care. Working on them creates mental health breaks and refuges for me, putting me into a meditative state of sorts when I stitch 'em up.

I want to find a way to stitch in my experiences. To weave in some of this city I live in and how my son sees it (every RV is a FEMA trailer now, every ruined neighborhood is a part of New Orleans, but not a part of it). To get myself and others healing again. And maybe, just maybe, to find a way to put most of this stuff in a little box and close the least for a little while.

Ms Killian, I am grateful to you for your unwitting gifts you have put out into this world. Be well and live well. And get some of your own needle therapy in what must be one hectic life.


thordora said...

You can blow glass! Do you have any idea how insanely jealous I am of that?

I'd love to work with glass...

Leigh C. said...

Thordora, depending on where you are on this great continent of ours, I can probably clue you in to where you can go to at least one hot shop to watch some glassblowing, or possibly to get a beginning course under your belt.

Or, since I've noticed how much you love to cruise the Home Depot, when you get some spare moolah (tough with kids, I know), get a little MAPP gas torch with an adjustable hot head, check out for flameworking supplies, and set up a lil' studio in your very own home!

I've contemplated doing so many times, myself.

Anonymous said...

Leigh, I don't know if this will reach you but I would like to chat with you. I ran accross your blog quite by accident but couldn't help be interested in some of your comments. If you get this please email me at Yes, I am the Karon Killian who designed those boxes. I will look forward to hearing from you.

Anonymous said...

I too love the Whiskey Creek Boxes. I am currently looking for the pattern or kit for the Tooth Fairy box. Does anyone have a copy to send me at
Thanks very much.